Multitemporal satellite image datasets provide valuable information on the phenological characteristics of vegetation, thereby significantly increasing the accuracy of cover type classifications compared to single date classifications. However, the processing of these datasets can become very complex when dealing with multitemporal data combined with multispectral data. Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) biweekly composite data are commonly used to classify land cover over large regions. Selecting a subset of these biweekly composite periods may be required to reduce the complexity and cost of land cover mapping. The objective of our research was to evaluate the effect of reducing the number of composite periods and altering the spacing of those composite periods on classification accuracy. Because inter-annual variability can have a major impact on classification results, 5 years of AVHRR data were evaluated. AVHRR biweekly composite images for spectral channels 1-4 (visible, near-infrared and two thermal bands) covering the entire growing season were used to classify 14 cover types over the entire state of Colorado for each of five different years. A supervised classification method was applied to maintain consistent procedures for each case tested. Results indicate that the number of composite periods can be halved-reduced from 14 composite dates to seven composite dates-without significantly reducing overall classification accuracy (80.4% Kappa accuracy for the 14-composite data-set as compared to 80.0% for a seven-composite dataset). At least seven composite periods were required to ensure the classification accuracy was not affected by inter-annual variability due to climate fluctuations. Concentrating more composites near the beginning and end of the growing season, as compared to using evenly spaced time periods, consistently produced slightly higher classification values over the 5 years tested (average Kappa) of 80.3% for the heavy early/late case as compared to 79.0% for the alternate dataset case).